Louisiana Maritime Companies Face Federal Charges

Two maritime companies in Louisiana are facing federal charges in two separate cases. Last week, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana charged Harvey-based DRD Towing and it's part owner, as well as Galliano-based Offshore Service Vessels on several counts. DRD Towing has been charged on two counts of violating the Ports and Waterways Safety Act and Clean Water Act. Part owner Randall Dantin was charged with one count of obstructing justice. The charges against DRD Towing include assigning unlicensed employees to operate certain vessels, and failure to have a relief captain when a captain was operating 24 hours a day. DRD Towing also faces a second charge of illegal negligent discharge of oil. In July 2008, a tanker barge owned by DRD Towing crossed the path of a Liberian-flagged tanker ship, MT Tintomara. The resulting collision resulted in more than 282,000 gallons of oil being dumped into the Mississippi River. Having crewmembers operate a vessel for too long increases the risk of fatigue, and consequently, the risk of an accident. Driver fatigue is as much of a problem on the water, as it is on land. A tired and drowsy captain or pilot is less able to make the kind of emergency decisions that are necessary in order to navigate safely. Offshore Service Vessels has been charged with discharging oily wastewater from a bilge tank on its vessel RV Gould. In that case, the oily wastewater that had been generated aboard the vessel was stored in a bilge water holding tank, which had a capacity of approximately 12,000 gallons. When the tank reached its capacity, the crewmembers went ahead and emptied the tank overboard, without getting it through an Oily Water Separator first. Maritime lawyer Brian Beckcom is a Board-Certified Trial Lawyer whose primary focus is the representation of Jones Act seamen, including tankermen, galley hands, deckhands, cruise line crews, fishing vessel crew members, offshore workers and other maritime workers in accidents in Texas, across the country and international waters.

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